C-Suite Spotlight is pleased to announce The Top 25 Executives of South Carolina for 2023. South Carolina is geographically diverse, featuring three distinct regions from east to west: the Atlantic coastal plain, the Piedmont, and the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Not only is the atmosphere imbued with southern hospitality and a rich landscape, South Carolina stands out with one of the nation's lowest crime rates, creating a nurturing environment for communities and businesses to thrive. While our top executives in this category represent a diverse range of industries, spanning from home improvement, tech, and finance to publishing and non-profit organizations, many seem to be infusing their businesses with profound purpose and prioritizing mental wellness. They bring a breadth of expertise from many of South Carolina's esteemed healthcare institutions, such as Prisma Health and the Medical University of South Carolina.
Among this year’s awardees, Michael Bundy has been expanding his role as Chief Executive Officer of Midlands Market, Prisma Health Midlands Market from both Baptist and Baptist Parkridge Hospitals and surrounding campuses in Columbia, to include all four campuses in Prisma Health’s Midlands market. Another notable awardee, Ricky Sapp, is a former American football outside linebacker and now, a motivational speaker and Chief Executive Officer of Dream Big Live Big. Additionally, Susan Shugart, CEO of KershawHealth, brings a wealth of experience from her prior leadership roles at various hospitals, including LifePoint facilities, Baptist Easley Hospital, and Clarendon Health System.
We applaud these individuals for their commitment to the organizations they serve. Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 25 Executives of South Carolina for 2023.
1. Mark Sims
Chief Executive Officer, HCA
Mark Sims is the Chief Executive Officer of HCA. Established in 1968, Nashville-based HCA was one of the nation's first hospital companies. Today, they are the nation's leading provider of healthcare services employing approximately199,000 people. HCA is comprised of locally managed facilities including roughly 162 hospitals and 113 freestanding surgery centers in 20 states and in England.
Sims began his career in 2004. He graduated from Belmont University, Jack C. Massey College of Business with an MBA, and from the University of Alabama with an undergraduate degree.
2. Natasia Williams
Chief Executive Officer, Born Classie Academy
Natasia Williams is the Chief Executive Officer of Born Classie Academy. She is a Professional Motivational Coach and Speaker certified in NLP techniques, accumulating a lifetime of experience in overcoming what seemed to be impossible by adjusting to a positive mindset. As she would never give up on herself, the same applies to her clients. Her wisdom, wit, energy, and optimism are the catalyst that inspires her clients to renew the person within.
Williams received her degree to become a nursing assistant and began to work in the field. Shortly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she began her own spiritual journey and realized that her calling was bigger. This led her to pursue her life purpose of being a coach. By honing in on her natural abilities, she came across the Human Design system, epigenetics, and the power of self-empowerment. This new approach makes her coaching experience extraordinarily unique because she coaches everyone in her perspective. She speaks to each individual's soul by sharing her own experiences, laying out a step-by-step blueprint on how to elevate your life from the inside out.
3. Bernard Johnson
Chief Executive Officer, Arc of the Low Country
Bernard Johnson is the Chief Executive Officer of Arc of the Low Country, one of more than 600 state and local chapters across the country united under the mission of advocating for services for citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Their mission is to provide programs and support services to individuals and families of loved ones with disabilities.
Johnson began his career in 1983. Before joining Arc of the Low Country, Johnson was a Structural Design Engineer at Rockwell International Northrop Aircraft, MacDonnel Douglas. Johnson graduated from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale with an undergraduate degree in engineering.
4. Charlise Mills
Chief Executive Officer, Mills Home Solutions
Charlise Mills is the Chief Executive Officer of Mills Home Solutions. The company provides construction, general contracting, and land improvement services in the Asheville, NC area. They are a team of fully certified professionals tackling everything from complex large projects to smaller-scale jobs. The company prides itself on its top-quality service and customer satisfaction.
Mills first joined the company in 2020. Previously, she was a Support Analyst at Blackbaud and before that, a Customer Professional at Verizon Wireless. Mills earned an undergraduate degree in business administration and management from South Carolina State University.
5. Haro Setian
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Haro Group of Keller Williams
Haro Setian is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Haro Group of Keller Williams. This real estate franchise based out of Austin, TX, is the world’s largest by agent count with over 1,100 offices and 187,000 agents. It is also No. 1 in units and sales volume in the US. Since 1983, the company has cultivated an agent-centric, technology-driven, and education-based culture that rewards agents as stakeholders.
Setian began his career in 2001. Before joining The Haro Group of Keller Williams, he was a Promoter, Manager, and Agent at Mariam Matossian Music and before that, a Buyer's Specialist at Hamilton & Co. of Keller Williams. Earlier in his career, he worked with Banc of America Securities as an Analyst of global asset-backed securitization. Setian graduated from Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business at Clemson University with an MA in economics and from Clemson University with an undergraduate degree in economics.
6. Ryan Lee
Chief Executive Officer, Tenet Healthcare
Ryan Lee began his professional career 11 years ago. Today, he is the Chief Executive Officer of Tenet Healthcare, a diversified healthcare services company headquartered in Dallas. Their care delivery network includes United Surgical Partners International, the largest ambulatory platform in the country, which operates or has ownership interests in approximately 465+ ambulatory surgery centers and surgical hospitals. They also operate 60 acute care and specialty hospitals, approximately 110 other outpatient facilities, a network of leading employed physicians, and a global business center in Manila, Philippines.
Lee first got his start in 2012 as an Administrative Resident at Tidelands Health. From there, he went on to Tenet Healthcare in Coastal Carolina Hospital before eventually rising to COO at HCA Healthcare, LewisGale Medical Center, his most recent position prior to re-joining Tenet Healthcare. Lee graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina with an MHA and from Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business at Clemson University with an undergraduate degree in management.
7. Trey Northrup
Chief Executive Officer, LIXIL Americas
Trey Northrup is the Chief Executive Officer of LIXIL Americas. The company makes pioneering water and housing products that make better homes a reality for everyone. It was established in 2011 through a merger of five of Japan's most successful building materials and housing companies. They are influenced by the Japanese heritage to create world-leading technology and innovate to make high-quality products that transform homes. Northrup is driving business growth through innovation across the American Standard, GROHE and DXV brands and enhancing its organizational culture.
Northrup will draw upon his experience across a variety of practice areas, including commercial execution, new business, sales, marketing, and merchandising, to lead LIXIL in adapting to a rapidly changing environment to be more consumer-focused, build equity in iconic brands, and drive business results. He joins LIXIL after nearly 20 years with Whirlpool Corporation where his tenure culminated in several key leadership roles after beginning his career as a Market Brand Representative. Most recently, he oversaw Whirlpool’s JennAir and Commercial Laundry Group, successfully enabling disruptive growth for the business. Northrup holds a BS in Business Administration and an MBA from the University of Tennessee.
8. Darrell Jones
Owner & Chief Executive Officer, Jones Express Enterprise
Darrell Jones is the Owner and Chief Executive Officer of Jones Express Enterprise, bringing with him 27 years of extensive experience in the pulp and paper industry. His expertise spans wood processing, chipping, and heavy equipment operations and serviceability. As a Project Manager, he has successfully overseen various process projects, including upgrades for material weighing and portal crane restructuring. Jones stands out as a leader in safety processes, communication, and problem-solving, utilizing Manufacturing Excellence tools. He plays a pivotal role as a safety leader during scheduled maintenance outages and shutdowns.
In addition to his role in the pulp and paper industry, Jones is a versatile businessperson and entrepreneur, organizing and managing a used auto sales lot and a trucking company. Beyond his professional commitments, Jones actively engages with his community and serves as a speaker at local churches. He is notably the Program Sponsor of the Outreach Program at the First Church of our Lord Jesus Christ in Columbia, SC, showcasing his commitment to community welfare.
9. Jeff Wright
Chief Executive Officer, Select Medical
Jeff Wright is the Chief Executive Officer of Select Medical. Over 20 years ago, the company made a commitment to deliver an exceptional patient care experience that promotes healing and recovery in a compassionate environment. They have honored that promise by helping to define the nation's standard of excellence in specialized hospital and rehabilitative care. Wright brings 19 years of expertise to the company.
Before joining Select Medical, Wright was a Hospital Administrator at Cape Canaveral Hospital at Health First following his position as Administrative Director at Self Regional Healthcare. Earlier in his career, he worked with Prisma Health as a Medical Laboratory Technician. Wright graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina with an MS in Healthcare Administration, and from Southern Wesleyan University with an undergraduate degree in medical technology and biology.
10. Debbie Shumpert
Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Kadesh Business Solutions
Debbie Shumpert, the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Kadesh Business Solutions boasts over 26 years of executive HR leadership across diverse industries, including automotive and plastics manufacturing, construction equipment, and consumer goods. Her extensive expertise spans various business scenarios, including start-ups, private equity ventures, ramp-ups, acquisitions, divestitures, and greenfield initiatives. Shumpert designs competitive Total Rewards programs tailored for mid to large-sized employers, drawing from her global experience. She is adept at developing and executing HR strategic plans and metrics, as her skill set extends to crafting high-impact performance management systems, leadership development initiatives, and succession planning programs.
Having joined the company in 2015, Shumpert brings a wealth of experience from her previous roles. She served as an HR manager at Magna International and Minghua USA, contributing significantly to their HR functions. Earlier in her career, she served as an HR organization representative at FUJIFILM Holdings America Corporation. Shumpert earned her undergraduate degree in business administration with a concentration in human resources from Southern Wesleyan University.
11. Michael Bundy
Chief Executive Officer, Midlands Market, Prisma Health Midlands Market
In 2019, Mike Bundy began serving as Chief Executive Officer for both Baptist and Baptist Parkridge Hospitals and surrounding campuses in Columbia. Bundy has over two decades of healthcare leadership experience focused on implementing LEAN principles and metrics management, along with creating high-performing teams of providers and staff. Before joining Prisma Health, he was senior VP and COO at Cape Cod Healthcare. Previously, Bundy worked with MedAssets Advisory Solutions of Alpharetta, Georgia, on quality, throughput, efficiency, and financial performance improvement projects in hospitals across the country. He also held several operations leadership roles with Wellmont Health System in Kingsport, Tennessee. In addition, he served eight years on active duty as an Airborne Infantry Officer in the US Army, in multiple units and locations worldwide.
Bundy received a bachelor’s degree with a major in economics from West Virginia University. He earned his MBA at Tiffin University. An advocate of forming strong ties with the community, Bundy works with the local community as a board member of the United Way of the Midlands, supporting WellPartners eye and dental clinics, and also as a member of the United Way Economic Impact committee and its Race, Equity, and Inclusion committee.
12. Pam Johnson
Chief Executive Officer, Diamonique’s Designer Tees
Pam Johnson began her professional career 19 years ago, and today, she stands as the Chief Executive Officer of Diamonique’s Designer Tee. With over 20 years of senior-level leadership and executive management experience, coupled with 30 years of personnel and administrative expertise, Johnson is a seasoned and accomplished manager. She holds a track record of developing advanced Human Resources training databases, implementing innovative strategies, driving positive change, solving complex problems, and consistently achieving desired results. Her communication skills, combined with strong interpersonal abilities and cultural awareness, enable her to build high-performing teams that excel in fast-paced, demanding, and diverse environments.
Johnson commenced her career in 2004 as a detailed inspector general at United States Army Europe and 7th Army. She continued her trajectory at the US Army Soldier Support Institute, eventually ascending to the role of administrative executive officer to the commanding general at Headquarters in XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg—her position prior to joining Diamonique’s Designer Tees. Johnson is an alumna of Webster University, holding an MA in organizational leadership and master's degrees in human resources management and personnel administration. Additionally, she earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Campbell University.
13. Justin Benfield
Chief Executive Officer, Laurens County Hospital and Hillcrest Hospital, Prisma Health, Laurens County Hospital and Hillcrest Hospital
Justin Benfield is the current Chief Executive Officer of Laurens County Hospital at Prisma Health, Laurens County Hospital and Hillcrest Hospital. Before that, he was the Director of UMG Operations at Greenville Health System-University Medical Group from 2010 to 2017. Benfield was also the Administrator at Carolina Cardiology Consultants from 2005 to 2010 and the Director of Invasive Cardiology at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System from 2000 to 2004. Benfield started their career as a Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist at University Hospital from 1995 to 2000.
Benfield has an MBA from Southern Wesleyan University in the field of Health/Health Care Administration/Management. He also has a bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in the same field. Benfield has an associate's degree from Georgia Heart Institute School of Cardiovascular Technology in the field of Cardiovascular Technology/Technologist. Benfield is certified by Cardiovascular Credentialing International as a Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist.
14. Steve Longoria
Chief Executive Officer and Founder, AI MicroTech
Steve Longoria began his professional career 33 years ago. Today, he is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of AI MicroTech. Longoria first got his start in 1990 as a VP of Common Platform at IBM. From there, he went on to RMI, before eventually rising to VP of APAC sales at NetLogic Microsystems, his most recent position prior to joining AI MicroTech.
Longoria graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with an MS in mechanical engineering and from Gonzaga University with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering.
15. Ricky Sapp
Chief Executive Officer & Motivational Speaker, Dream Big Live Big
Ricky Sapp is the Chief Executive Officer and Motivational Speaker of Dream Big Live Big. He started his football career at Clemson University in 2010, where he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round. Since the NFL, Sapp has been very active in the football community. The Ricky Sapp Youth Football Camp is held in Bamberg, SC annually. NFL pros, friends, and family assist Sapp with the camp. All youth participants receive Dream Big Live Big gear.
Before joining Dream Big Live Big, Sapp was a Fitness Trainer at ESA Fitness Club. Earlier in his career, he worked with the National Football League as a professional football player. Sapp graduated from Clemson University with an undergraduate degree in sociology.
Ricky Sapp Insight's
“ If you hang out with me long enough, I will brainwash you into believing in yourself and knowing you can achieve anything.”
16. Bradford Connett
Chief Executive Officer NA Distribution, Henry Schein
Bradford Connett is the Chief Executive Officer of NA Distribution at Henry Schein, a solutions company for healthcare professionals powered by a network of people and technology. With more than 23,000 members worldwide, the company's network of trusted advisors provides more than one million customers globally, with more than 300 valued solutions that help improve operational success and clinical outcomes. Connett has overall responsibility for the Henry Schein Medical Group, generating over $2.5 billion in sales. Reporting to the SVP and COO, he leads approximately 1200 employees and has 7 direct reports including Finance, Sales and Marketing, Operations, and Technology Solutions.
Prior to his current position, Connett was a Board Director and VP of Roane Barker when acquired by Henry Schein in 1997. He is a former Board Director for National Distributing and Contracting, the largest Medical/Veterinary Group in North America. Connett is the former Chairman of the Physician Counsel for Health Industry Distributors Association and former Chairman of the Board in 2011. Connett graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an undergraduate degree in economics and psychology.
17. Shena Fordham
Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Lifting Individuals For Excellence
Shena Fordham is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Lifting Individuals For Excellence (LIFE), a non-profit organization aimed to empower, inspire, and motivate individuals to live a healthy, successful, and purposeful life. Fordham began her career in 2013. She is an enthusiastic professional with 18 years of extensive and diverse experience in the fields of healthcare, customer service, and social work.
Fordham has proven experience in developing and implementing innovative programs and services for non-profit organizations, working with constituent groups including boards, committees, volunteers, and external audiences. Fordham graduated from Trident Technical College with an undergraduate degree in business administration and management.
18. Annette Hoover
President and Chief Executive Officer, EventUs
Annette Hoover is the President and Chief Executive Officer of EventUs. She has been an integral part of the company since 2011. With a sales background spanning over 35 years, Hoover brings a wealth of experience directly relevant to the current suite of services offered by 'All About Brides and Events.'
Additionally, Hoover has extended her expertise by teaching at the University of South Carolina, contributing to the evolution of event services for the next generation. Drawing on hands-on research and leveraging insights from her formal education, she actively imparts real-life experiences to undergraduate students. Hoover holds an MS in HRTM and education from the University of South Carolina, and an MBA in business from Purdue University Fort Wayne.
19. Jason Caskey
President and Chief Executive Officer, University of South Carolina Foundations
Jason Caskey is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the University of South Carolina Foundations. Founded in 1801, the University of South Carolina is located in the heart of Columbia, South Carolina, ranking as the No. 3 college town in the country. With 324 degree programs, the No. 1 international business program, the nation’s best honors college, and 47 nationally ranked programs, the University of South Carolina offers both the breadth and the excellence for students to thrive in a 21st-century world.
Caskey brings 28 years of experience in the financial services industry to the position, most recently serving as financial services practice leader for Elliott Davis. He has also served as the firm’s managing shareholder in Columbia. In the role of practice leader, he has managed teams of more than 100 professionals across five states and has served on the boards of numerous philanthropic organizations, including the United Way of the Midlands, the Central Carolina Community Foundation, and the USC Business Partnership Foundation. Caskey is a 1990 graduate of the University of South Carolina, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. In 2008, he was honored with the Distinguished Young Alumnus award from the Moore School of Business.
20. Sonja Rhodes
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, JMPinckney Publishing Company
Sonja Rhodes is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of JMPinckney Publishing Company. She is a licensed real estate agent. She holds a BA in Human Resource Management and an MA in Business Management.
Rhodes is also an Associate Minister in the Gospel at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, South Carolina, a Young Adult Ministry Advisor, Baptist Young Women Advisor, Sunday School Teacher, Advocate for My Sister's House, and a retired state employee with nearly 30 years of service as a Business Manager.
21. Jacquelyn Barber
Chief Executive Officer and Administrator, Never Alone Home Health Care of Sumter
Jacquelyn Barber began her professional career 35 years ago. Today, she is the Chief Executive Officer and Administrator of Never Alone Home Health Care of Sumterm, a company that provides in-home care for elderly, disabled, recovering patients, or anyone in need of special home care. Their home care services are provided in the client’s homes, hospitals, nursing homes, or convalescent centers. They provide live-in, overnight, or hourly shifts. Service is available for as little as two hours or as many as seven days a week, customizable to the client’s specific needs.
Barber first got her start in 1988 as a Legal Assistant and Certified Paralegal at NMRS, Suggs & Kelly, and NPJP & McWhirter. From there, she went on to Palmetto GBA, a subsidiary of BCBS before eventually rising to Supervisor Provider Operations at WellCare, her most recent position prior to joining Never Alone Home Health Care of Sumter. Barber graduated from Strayer University of South Carolina with an MBA in health care administration and from the University of South Carolina with an undergraduate degree in business administration and management.
22. Weston Butler
Chief Executive Officer in Outpatient Surgery Center of Hilton Head, SCA Health
Weston Butler serves as the Chief Executive Officer at the Outpatient Surgery Center of Hilton Head, part of SCA Health, a healthcare organization offering comprehensive medical, surgical, and healthcare services. Their updated brand represents the evolution of their business— all that they are today and all that they will become. It symbolizes their expansion into various facets of specialty care, reinforcing their commitment to supporting physician specialists, caring for an increasing number of patients, and extending a warm welcome to new partners joining their family of businesses.
Butler began his career in 2017. Before joining SCA Health, he was a Healthcare Associate at Alvarez & Marsal. Butler graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina with an MHA and from Georgia Southern University with an undergraduate degree in finance.
23. Susan Shugart
Chief Executive Officer, KershawHealth
Susan Shugart began her professional career 24 years ago. Today, she is the Chief Executive Officer of KershawHealth. Founded in 1913 as Camden Hospital, KershawHealth is a full-service healthcare system proudly serving its community members in Kershaw County and its surrounding areas. A part of LifePoint Health, KershawHealth consists of facilities in Camden, Elgin, Lugoff, Bethune, and Kershaw, including a 119-bed medical center and a 20-bed geriatric psychiatric unit in Camden, outpatient center and urgent are in Elgin, a sleep diagnostics center, and physical therapy facility. They employ more than 700 dedicated employees.
Shugart previously served as COO of Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center and as interim CEO of Saline Health System – both of which are LifePoint facilities. She has held numerous other hospital leadership roles throughout her career including serving as CAO of Baptist Easley Hospital and as COO for Clarendon Health System. Shugart earned a bachelor’s degree from Furman University and a master’s degree from the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. She is a graduate of the class of 2000 of Leadership South Carolina.
24. Mohamed Makawi
President and Chief Executive Officer, Eagles Landing International
Mohamed Makawi is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Eagles Landing International, which currently owns and operates 22 IHOP Family Restaurants in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. As a 20-year veteran of IHOP International, Makawi has acquired existing IHOP markets, as well as developed new markets. He is skilled at real estate site selection, upfitting, construction, and all other tasks involved in opening a new IHOP. Makawi has won numerous IHOP Sales Achievement and Operating Assessment awards. Each IHOP Restaurant must operate within the its franchise requirements and recommendations, while at the same time adapting to the needs of the local community. With this strategy in mind, Eagles Landing has been successful in large markets, such as Savannah, GA, Augusta, GA, and Wilmington, NC, as well as smaller towns and off-Interstate locations.
Makawi is an experienced President with a demonstrated history of working in the food and beverages industry. He boasts extensive experience in catering, budgeting, business planning, and operations management. He is a strong business development professional with a master's degree from New York University in genetic engineering and an undergraduate degree in genetic engineering and science from the University of Alexandria, Egypt.
25. Sheldon Scott
Owner and Chief Executive Officer, Guess Who Served
Sheldon Scott began his professional career 13 years ago. Today, he is the Owner and Chief Executive Officer of Guess Who Served. Scott is a motivated team player, ready to accept new responsibilities. He has very strong coordinating and problem-solving skills with the ability to separate objectives and organize a working plan.
Scott graduated from Columbia Southern University with an MBA in project management and from the University of Arkansas Grantham with an undergraduate degree in business administration.